Monthly Archives: November, 2010

Batman to TSA

Remember, when flying this holiday you can “opt out” of the TSA body scan. I opted out years ago. When I built a jet shaped like a bat.


ICON 35 Report: Final

Sunday, last day of the con. Most attendees are wandering the halls a bit bleary eyed. While everything is winding down, there are still a few interesting panels. Unfortunately I missed the last Build-A-Blinkie workshop but at least I caught Cory’s last panel of the con, “No User Serviceable Parts Inside”. During that panel Cory and Dave Stagner covered a variety of topics, from feral robot dogs to DRM to the openess of Android phones vs the stability of iPhones. During the mobile phone platform discussion Cory was talking about how Apple’s curating of the app store and how they had infamously kept out certain apps based on content, but later relented. Cory summed up this as:

Angry blog storms is a poor basis to decide what apps I run on my mobile device.

Shortly after that, it was closing ceremonies and ICON 35 came to an end (for most). There was a dead-dog party after clean-up, but we were rather tired and just headed home. Of course the tiredness of last night was nothing compared to the tiredness I feel this morning, as Cory’s needed picking up from the hotel at 4:30 AM to get to the airport in time for his flight. Naturally this means I got up at 3:30 AM to be able to get up/awake/ready and over to the hotel on time. *blargh*

ICON 35 Report: Day Two

A refreshing night’s sleep –in my own bead– and then back to the con. I started off the day listening to Cory read from the new book he’s working on. It’s another young-adult novel, dealing with social-technological issues and sounds pretty interesting. After the reading was over Cory took questions for a bit and somebody in the crowd asked a question along the lines of “was he concerned that he’d ever run out of ideas”. To which Cory replied,

It’s the 21st century; if you can’t come up with nine science-fiction ideas before breakfast, you’re not even trying.

After the reading was over, I fetched the New-Pi salads we’d picked up for Cory and waited in the autograph line so I could give them to him. The line got down to the last 4 people, 3 males and one female. The first guy’s name is Mark, he gets his book signed and walks off. The second guy comes up to get his book signed and his name is also Mark. The coincidence of having three Marks all right there got to Cory a bit and he remarked on it. The women in the line popped up with a “reassuring” comment that her name wasn’t Mark. To which I replied that it was “no mark against her”. Appropriate groaning accorded and it my was turn to reassure her that my wife would beat me later for that pun. Then I gave Cory his salads and he disappeared off to his room for lunch.

While I went off and played some board games. Puerto Rico was fun, but rather complicated for us to be playing in the very noisy game room with a bunch of people who’d never played it before. Then it was time to head off to the Guest of Honor Interview panel, where Rusty Hevelin was interviewing ICON’s author, artist and fan guests of honor. It was a fun time, both for the answers and for the guests’ reactions when Rusty asked some of his questions. After the interview panel was over, I found out Cory was really feeling the jet lag and wanted to lay down for a while. I told him that worked great actually, because there was a longer break after his next panel which meant we could take him a bit farther from the hotel for a nicer dinner.

So Michelle & I helped out at the con-suite for a bit, then I caught the end of another panel and it was suddenly 7 o’clock and time to take Cory to dinner. It turned out that a friend of ours was looking for somebody to go eat with and Cory graciously allowed her to join us. We all trooped out to the car and drove out to our favorite Indian restaurant, Taste of India. The food appeared to be a hit all-around1. The dinner conversation though made me really glad our friend joined us.

She works on really interesting space/science stuff, analyzing research data from satellites and what not. So naturally we introduced her to Cory as our “resident rocket-scientist”. Cory immediately jumped onto that topic and started asking all sorts of questions about her work. It was while he was questioning her that I realized how intimidated Cory makes me feel. Intimidated isn’t quite the right word, though it is a part of the problem. My real job doesn’t have any of the possible broad, social impact like Cory’s writing and I also don’t want to be “that guy” geeking out at Cory when he’s trying to eat a nice dinner2. This means I can’t talk about work, I can’t talk geek (too easy to cross the geeking out line) which leaves me with topics I feel totally under prepared to discuss with somebody who’s spent years working on at very high levels. *sigh*

1There were comments earlier in the day that indicated Cory liked the New-Pi salads better than Panera as well.
2Geeking out like that in my mind would be a rudeness that a host should never show to a guest.

ICON 35 Report: Day One

Not the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, but a bit of coffee and I was I alright. We met up with Cory around 1 and took him over to Panera Bread for lunch. Unfortunately I don’t think he particularly cared for it, probably because the seasonal salads have changed since I was last in and there weren’t any salads with fish. Still he was nice about it.

Back at the con, Michelle & I got a change to poke around the art show and dealer’s room. In the dealer’s room, there was one table that had a display backed by black cloth. And laying on a shelf of that display was a black cat, nearly invisible (but still very cute). There were a few items of interest around (Michelle bought a new pendant for herself and she got me a pretty cunning hat). We spent most of the day wondering around the con, saying hello to people and what not.

Then when it got to be almott time for Cory’s first panel of the con; he was initially in hiding1, but he showed up in time. It looked like the room was packed for the panel and from listening to the end of the panel, I’d say people enjoyed it.

Oh, where was I you ask? Cory had indicated a preference to go to dinner with Joe & Gay Haldeman; so Michelle & I were tracking them down, calling a restaurant, making reservations, going out to pick up another car to make sure we could fit everybody and basically running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

In the end, it all worked out. We didn’t get to take them to our normal sushi place (too far away for the time constraints we were under); but the nearby place turned out to be fairly decent. As a bonus, we got them to the restuarant, fed and back all inside the hour we had before Cory’s next panel (opening ceremonies). Additionally, we got to sit in and listen as a couple of superb storytellers caught up with one another.

1Actually he was just getting more espresso from his travel kit.

ICON 35 Report: Day Zero

Cory Doctorow’s connecting flight from Chicago, IL to Cedar Rapids, IA was delayed. Originally scheduled to arrive at 9:44pm, the flight did not get in until 11:17pm. Cory seemed kind and gracious, if a bit tired. The heated car seats in my wife’s VWwere a big hit. As was the procuring of an electric kettle for Cory’s use.

It felt a bit weird to be standing next to him and conversing with him. I frequently listen to his podcast; so I’m familiar with hearing his voice. However having that voice respond to things I was saying or doing was sort of surreal. Either that or perhaps I was a bit more tired than I thought.

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